Indiana Jones has gone down in history as one of the most charismatic and memorable movie heroes of all time, his whip and hat amongst the most iconic pieces of character costume ever assembled, Harrison Ford’s wry smile about as integral to his success as his creators Steven Spielberg and George Lucas.
Originally inspired by the James Bond series, the Indiana Jones franchise has become an all-time great in its own right, the heights of the five film collection being almost incomparable for their thrills and chills.
In this edition of Ranked, we at The Film Magazine looking at all five Indiana Jones films released between 1981 and 2023 to judge which are the best and which are the worst based on artistic merit, overall influence and cultural significance.
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5. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)
The issue with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull isn’t its ancient alien mythology, it’s that it doesn’t present this mythology with any of the respect that the previous three Indiana Jones movies did with their bible-leaning myths and pursuit of biblical artefacts.
Rarely if ever does the task of uncovering clues seem important, despite how these brief moments are by far the highlights of the film and the backbone of the earlier trilogy, and the mythology is so poorly explained that little is known as to why the characters are even pursuing their discovery at all, especially when it proves to be of so much risk to their lives.
Unlike in all four of the other films, there’s not a moment people can uniformly agree upon as being great either. Everything seems shot on green screen, the CG effects are so ever-present they’re distracting, and the series abandons its tightrope walk between realistic and absurd to jump head first into human-eating ants, sword fights taking place across moving vehicles, and Shia LaBeouf swinging from vines in the rainforest like a monkey. Indy even survives a nuclear blast.
The cast is the biggest it has ever been – Shia LaBeouf, Ray Winstone, John Hurt and a particularly cartoonish Cate Blanchett chief among the new additions – which takes a lot of attention away from the character we’ve all come to see. Again, this is disappointing given that Harrison Ford is typically charismatic and remains watchable even through the plethora of uninspired dross this film throws at him.
When it’s bad, it’s garbage. When it’s good it’s almost Indiana Jones. It’s hard to believe that Steven Spielberg directed this.